SDLP Health Spokesperson and Chair of the APG on Mental Health, Mark H Durkan, has echoed calls to prioritise an urgent Mental Health Action Plan here. His comments follow a recent Samaritans Suicide Statistics Report has shown figures in Northern Ireland are the highest throughout the UK & ROI.
The Foyle MLA commented:
“We are witnessing a mental health crisis here in Northern Ireland- as explicitly laid out in the Samaritans Report. It makes for grim reading and I am particularly struck by the numbers next to the 10-14 age bracket.
“These are loved ones lost and failed by a system, reduced to numbers on the latest harrowing report. We must not resign ourselves to stoicism on such matters, to adopt a silent acceptance that the North will top figures on any poor mental health report within these islands. It needs to be asked, what kind of environment and society are we creating where our children are feeling so lost and experiencing such despair that they can’t see a way out?
“This Christmas period has been devastating for many families with so many young lives lost. We need to wake up to the mental health crisis plaguing a new generation and come together with absolute resoluteness to tackle it. I stress, such high rates of suicides are not normal- we cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that underlying societal issues mean we are sitting on a ticking time bomb.
“It is clear that we are failing too many vulnerable people. We must drive forward a strategy which focuses on those struggling with poor mental health and looks at contributing factors including poverty and addiction issues. Existing crisis de-escalation services must be protected at all costs, in our communities.
“We need to embolden our children from an early age with the importance of coping with their emotions and speaking openly about mental health. We need to build resilience and foster a culture of hope within a generation which has to date been failed by those in power.
“I myself have been inspired and instilled with a great sense of optimism for the future by the considerate, intelligent young people I have encountered through the many school debates and talks which I have attended. It is the duty of all parties to make a commitment now to ensure this generation will be given the opportunity to build a brighter future. It’s time to show leadership and take action on the mental health crisis. There is help out there, there is hope- we need to come together to deliver it.”